Trophy Hunting Imports — [Stewart Hosie in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:28 pm on 2nd October 2019.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water) 3:28 pm, 2nd October 2019

The hon. Lady makes a very sound point, on a common theme with Sir David Amess, who voiced a concern about what powers the Government have over the advertising of those tourism products. I spent five years working for the Association of British Travel Agents, and in that role I supported the animal welfare guidelines that encouraged ABTA members to ensure that animals are used sustainably and without endangering them, their habitats or their handlers. There are opportunities to ensure that those principles, which are good and strong, are spread across not only ABTA members, but the entire tourism industry. I am sure that the Minister is familiar with those guidelines; if he is not, I encourage him to look at them next time he needs some bedtime reading, because there is some real strength there and some real opportunities to do the right thing. The market does not correct all ills, and in this case there is a role for real moral leadership from the Government.

I hope that the Minister will be as strong and forthright in his new role as he has been in campaigning to date. I was pleased to see a letter that he co-signed in The Guardian in April with a series of high-profile supporters, which said:

“Banning the import of hunting trophies will send a clear message to the international community that there is no place for trophy hunting in this day and age.”

We must be clear that the continuation of that colonial and neo-colonial practice of rich people descending on communities, for whom that extra money can have a positive impact on their lives, to do something that is abhorrent, is something that we should not accept any more.

The Minister was in good company in signing that letter. It was signed not only by the Prime Minister’s father and his partner, but by Michael Palin, Captain Kirk—William Shatner, that is—Matt Lucas, Will Travers of Born Free, by my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn, my hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), for West Lancashire (Rosie Cooper), for Kensington (Emma Dent Coad), for Stroud (Dr Drew) and for Makerfield (Yvonne Fovargue), and many others besides.

As my final remark, I encourage the Minister not to allow his passion for these topics to be diluted by the sense, which there sometimes is within Government, that animal welfare legislation can be cut up and parcelled in different parts, as happened with the Ivory Act. The Ivory Act should have been a comprehensive ban on ivory—I believe that is something the Minister himself supported from the Back Benches—but it was allowed to be parcelled up into smaller bits. I hope that the new Administration will move away from that parcelling up of animal welfare opportunities.

There is a real opportunity here for people who may be bitterly divided on Brexit and other matters to come together, on a cross-party basis, around animal welfare. I encourage the Minister to be as bold as he can be, because in these times animals do not have a voice, and every animal matters. We must ensure that we are their voice. The Minister has the opportunity to be a bull in a china shop on the previous behaviour of the right soundbite but the wrong action, and to ensure that we have the comprehensive trophy hunting ban that we deserve, which animals both in the wild and in the canned lion industry that the hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire spoke about can really benefit from.